|A large fire erupted at Beirut port on Thursday, engulfing parts of the Lebanese capital in a pall of smoke (Photo: Bna.bh)|
Huge blaze at Beirut port alarms residents
A large fire erupted at Beirut port on Thursday, engulfing parts of the Lebanese capital in a pall of smoke weeks after a massive blast devastated the port and ruined a swathe of the city, Reuters reported.
The blaze began in the shattered duty-free zone of the port, prompting some residents to flee the city still traumatised by last month’s explosion that had followed a port fire.
Army helicopters dropped water as firefighters battled on the ground to bring the blaze under control. By nightfall, officials said most flames had been extinguished. Smoke still rose from smouldering wreckage but it was far less dense.
The blaze strained nerves already on edge. The city is reeling from the Aug. 4 port blast and the nation is grappling with a deep economic crisis that has posed the biggest threat to Lebanon’s stability since its 1975-1990 civil war.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said at a meeting of the Supreme Defence Council about the blaze that the fire could have been the result of sabotage, technical error or negligence, and the cause had to be uncovered quickly.
Onlookers watch the blaze near the port (Photo: CNN)
Many Lebanese are frustrated that they have yet to be told about any initial findings from an investigation into last month’s port explosion that killed about 190 and injured 6,000.
Officials said no one had been injured in Thursday’s fire although some suffered shortness of breath.
A source in the Supreme Defence Council said the port chief told the council in a report the fire was caused by repair welding work. Sparks fell on warehouses storing flammable items, including food items held there by aid agencies, the source said, adding that the military police would investigate.
China, India agree to disengage troops on contested border
China and India said they had agreed to de-escalate renewed tensions on their contested Himalayan border and take steps to restore “peace and tranquillity” following a high-level diplomatic meeting in Moscow.
Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar met in Moscow on Thursday and reached a five-point consensus, including agreements the current border situation is not in their interests and that troops from both sides should quickly disengage and ease tensions, the two countries said in a joint statement.
The consensus, struck on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting, came after a clash in the border area in the western Himalayas earlier this week.
China and India accused each other of firing into the air during the confrontation, a violation of long-held protocol not to use firearms on the sensitive frontier.
Wang told Jaishankar during the meeting the “imperative is to immediately stop provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.
|China and India said they had agreed to de-escalate renewed tensions on their contested Himalayan border (Photo: Reuters)|
Wang also told Jaishankar all personnel and equipment that have trespassed at the border must be moved and that frontier troops on both sides “must quickly disengage” in order to de-escalate the situation.
The comments contrast with recent show of force by the Chinese military. China’s Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, reported on Wednesday the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were moving soldiers, bombers and armoured vehicles into the border, as reported by Reuters.
'No need to be overly discouraged' about pause in Coronavirus Vaccine trial, WHO Says
The chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that there is no need to be "overly discouraged" by the news that human trials for one coronavirus vaccine candidate have been put on hold.
Earlier this week, AstraZeneca announced that it voluntarily halted human trials after a "potentially unexplained illness" was reported in one of the trials.
During a Thursday news conference, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said these kinds of pauses are common in drug and vaccine trials.
"There are ups and downs in research, there are ups and downs in clinical development. And we have to be prepared for those," Swaminathan said, adding that the pause serves as a "wake-up call" for those who are eager for a quick vaccine approval. "But we don't need to be overly discouraged, because these things happen."
Swaminathan said trial pauses like the one AstraZeneca reported allow researchers to investigate the cause of the adverse event and determine whether it pertains to the vaccine's safety, according to News Week.
Swaminathan added that the WHO is hopeful the paused trial will be able to move forward once the data is properly analyzed. But she added, "It depends—it depends on a lot, and we have to wait to see the details of what actually happened."
|There is no need to be "overly discouraged" by the news that human trials for one coronavirus vaccine candidate have been put on hold, WHO said (Photo: CBC.ca)|
Producer prices rise, gold price sees uptick
The Producer Price Index (PPI) increased 0.3 percent in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Spot gold saw slightly higher price movement, up $7 an ounce as of 8:30 am EST.
The increase in the PPI in August was the second consecutive advance; prices saw continuous decline between April to June in the wake of the recession.
On the services side of the index, known as final demand services, two-thirds of the advance can be attributed to a 1.2 percent increase in final demand trade services.
Nearly 20 percent of the increase in the final demand services index in August can beattributed to a 1.1 percent increase in margins for machinery, equipment, parts, and supplies wholesaling, the report noted.
Prices for final demand goods also increased, up 0.1 percent in August, the fourth consecutive increase.
However, energy related products, like heating oil, gasoline, and ethanol decreased, Kitco News reported.
|(Photo: Mining Technology)|
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